Iraqi Unionists Visit
Denounce Occupation, Urge International Solidarity
by Mike McCallister
The U.S. occupation of Iraq must end in order for working people in that country to rebuild, two Iraqi trade union leaders said in Milwaukee.
“What is happening in
Alwan and Amjad Aljawhry, the FWCUI’s North American representative, are participating in the first
When Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown by the invasion, the occupiers “promised us many things,” Aljawhry said. “What we got was agonies, fears, deaths, instability, and insecurity.”
Two years after the invasion, most Iraqis have just four hours of electricity per day, and water only runs through the plumbing from 6 am to 8 am. “If you’re still in bed, you have to wait until the next day.” As it is, the water that runs is still not pure, Aljawhry said.
The FWCUI and other independent trade unions continue to struggle under the old regime’s labor code, which legalizes just one official federation. “After the war, workers find themselves in deeper trouble than they were before,” Alwan said. “In spite of the laws in
According to Alwan and Aljawhry, the working class and its unions are a third, secular pole contending for power in
Aljawhry agreed with Alwan. He argued that no genuine “resistance force” would try “to destroy the country,” as he implied was being done by the current armed resistance. Aljawhry argued that if the occupation ends, it “removes the ground they stand on.” Alwan was not so sure that victory was certain. “We (the labor movement) may be too weak,” he said.
The occupation forces have been successful in dividing Iraqis along religious and ethnic lines, both men said. The old regime tried to promote these divisions, but the
The threat of civil war is increased the longer the occupation continues, Alwan suggested. “But with so many dying on a daily basis, what does civil war mean?”
Religious conflicts are a reality in today’s
The key to avoiding a civil war is a strong, united labor movement. “All workers must help write the constitution,” Alwan said.
“The international labor movement must put pressure on their governments to end the occupation,” Alwan said. “We don’t need any babysitters,” Aljawhry said. “We have all the abilities to run our country, and we will liberate our country.”